Kellyanne Conway Is All About Impressing You & Enraging You In the Same Breath
You guys remember August? August was a good month. It was warm and sunny, many of us were finally getting around to watching Stranger Things, and Donald Trump's campaign was near collapse. He chucked his campaign manager, the stalwart Paul Manafort, for Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon and Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway. Things seemed so dire that Time published a cover declaring a "meltdown" for Trump. But then Conway started speaking — and damn was she good at it. Now, Conway will serve as counselor to President Trump, meaning we can look forward to another four years of her slick, misdirecting answers to important questions.
Ever since Conway became Trump's campaign manager in August, she seemed to be on television nonstop, always with the same placid, upbeat smile and the right response to any and all questions about her candidate's misdeeds. Within days of teaming up with Trump, she was catching direct challenges to his actions and returning silver bullets of presidential behavior. When asked in the middle of the dust-up with the family of Humayun Khan, a Muslim-American soldier killed in Iraq, whether Trump would reach out to the Khan family after their spat following Khan's parents' appearance at the Democratic National Convention, Conway delivered the gem that you can watch below in the video:
"He may, but I certainly hope [the Khans] heard him last night," Conway said, masterfully turning a question of whether or not Trump would take action to whether or not the Khans had listened to Trump's vague, sort-of apology. "And I certainly hope America heard him last night, because of all the people … who have been saying, 'Hey, let's get Trump to pivot, let's get him to be more presidential,' that is presidential." Suddenly, he'd gone from petty bickerer to presidential. And Conway wasn't even finished.
"And it's also presidential today to have him and Gov. [Mike] Pence going to Louisiana in a decidedly non-political event, no press allowed, going to help people on the ground who are in need," she said, referring to Trump's visit to Louisiana following flooding in the state. Now he's not fighting with a gold-star family: He's helping flood victims. What a guy!
Conway's smooth answers would become a hallmark of the rest of Trump's campaign, even getting their own Saturday Night Live send-up. Her poise and unflappability betrays her past as both a magna cum laude graduate and a beauty pageant winner, and the role she played in Trump's victory cannot be overestimated.
Ultimately, it’s hard for me to decide whether I'm more impressed by Conway’s talents or intimidated by them, but it’s clear that, with her at Trump’s side in the White House, we'll all have to stay on our toes.